For our readers who are mothers-to-be we interviewed Paola Bagnall, author of Birth Made Easy. The book review is here. In the meantime enjoy the interview and please comment your thoughts below. Thank you.
I really liked how the book had advice on every aspect of pregnancy and birth. What is the biggest gem you can give to mothers-to-be?
To look forward to the birth with excitement and to work with your intuition and trust that your body is designed to give birth, which it is.
The book is big on relaxation, is this the most important thing when giving birth? How does one achieve this?
Yes relaxation is very important. The late Dr Grantley Dick-Read (1890 – 1959) visited a woman giving birth at her home in Whitechapel in London. She declined his offer of chloroform, and gave birth without undue problem. After the delivery, he asked her why she did not want chloroform and she replied, “It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t meant to, was it?”. Dr Dick-Reid actually said then that relaxation is the key to a good birth and in his book, Childbirth without Fear, he returned to women their rightful gift of a truly natural birth.
Today we are told that giving birth is painful and so many people believe this. TV programmes like One Born Every Minute also reinforce this. When you are relaxed you cannot feel fear and this is what hypnobirthing is all about.
Relaxation is achieved by visualisation of a favourite place, the use of colours, focusing on the breath and self-hypnosis – all of which are described in the book. When you are relaxed your body opens up easily and so the baby flows out.
What was your own experience of pregnancy and giving birth like?
I have two sons and I gave birth to both naturally and relatively easily. The first one took six hours and the second eleven hours. I am a biologist as well as a hypnotherapist and so I knew that my body could do this and also I was very excited about the process and looking forward to the experience.
When I gave birth 39 years ago we were given Pethidine automatically to help with the contractions. I hated this as it caused me to hallucinate! I wish I knew then what I know now about self-hypnosis as I would have been much more in control than I was. Even so both my births were empowering experiences!
The book is about giving birth naturally. Do you think a natural birth is better?
If you can give birth naturally, I personally feel this is best because it should be a magical, empowering experience, where you are in control. A natural birth also prevents the side effects of intervention and chemical drugs.
When someone has a headache or a medical procedure they generally use painkiller, why not do so when giving birth? It is the only medical thing that some people do without the help of painkillers. How is it different?
I’d just like to say that birth is not a medical thing! It is a natural process and as such is not meant to hurt. It is the medics in fact who have made it painful.
All pain is subjective and different for different people. If you think ‘pain’ then you get ‘pain’. I feel contractions are different from ‘pain’. They are intense pressure, good pressure, as they result in the birth of your baby. I have suffered pain far worse than my contractions. So think ‘good contractions’ and this alters your mind-set.
Of course using painkillers (epidural) may be what some people want and that is OK.
My book does not suggest that you have to have a natural birth. This is a choice that the mum-to-be must make. I simply suggest ways to achieve that goal.
Do you think the power of the mind can control the body?
Most definitely! We have the expression “mind over matter”. We have the most amazing resource in our unconscious minds that most of us do not tap into. By using positive affirmations and self-hypnosis we can use this innate ability we all have to make changes in ourselves for the better.
I got into hypnotherapy as I had a very painful shoulder injury that the medical profession could not help me with. I learned to tap into this inner power and heal my shoulder using self-hypnosis. This is what showed me how useful self-hypnosis could be in giving birth. And why I created my own Inner Power Hypnobirthing.
Will everyone be able to achieve a natural birth?
A natural birth may not happen for everyone, as things just do happen which make it not possible. If the baby is breach, or with complete placenta previa, where the placenta covers the exit for the baby, or if the baby is distressed in any way, then a C-Section has to be done in the best interests of the mother and baby. However, hypnobirthing helps you to remain calm and in control in such situations.
Do you think you can get back into shape easily after giving birth as long as you work hard?
Yes, I do, though this is easier for some people than others. Part of my hypnobirthing package is to help mums get back to their pre-pregnancy weight, shape and dimensions. Simple exercises as shown in my book and a sensible diet help to achieve this.
Tell us about the self-hypnosis CD.
The self-hypnosis CD is to be listened to on a daily basis prior to the birth. It uses visualisation, colour and positive affirmations to programme the unconscious mind to have a natural childbirth. It is a bit like putting a program into a computer. When you hit ‘play’ the program starts. So the trigger for my CD is the first contraction, or the waters breaking, and then the entire program goes into effect almost automatically. The CD takes you through pregnancy, the three stages of birth, healing up after the birth, bonding with the baby, breast-feeding easily (if you choose to do this) and getting your figure back.
What is the best advice you have for women giving birth?
Getting yourself into a positive frame of mind using hypnobirthing and start this as early as you can in your pregnancy so you have a beneficial expectation and you look forward to the birth with joyful anticipation.
Thank you Paola.